I had initially been very skeptical about relocating to Gurgaon. Most of my friends who landed up here after graduating from IIM happened to flee within a few months. They went to several places, in lands far and near; but no one stayed back in Gurgaon. Around that time, the central theme of Allen’s blog was cribs about Gurgaon.
There were a few that managed to hang on, and they continued to crib about the place. One of my aunts relocated from Delhi to Gurgaon 5 years back, and she is yet to stop cribbing about the latter location. Yet another aunt (a grand-aunt, actually) had briefly visited Gurgaon for a few days, and declared that it is “as good as America” and people here had no right to crib.
When I got this job offer roughly six months back, there was only one question I was trying to answer on my flight back to Bangalore. “Is this job good enough for me to relocate to and endure Gurgaon?” Two hours of deep thought followed and I answered that in the affirmative, and here I am. So far, on the job front, there are no complaints – which, coming from me six months into a job, is saying a lot.
Having heard enough cribs about Gurgaon from various sources, I decided I needed to hedge, and I was willing to spend a little money in order to do that. I transported my car here (I got here and realized that car is a hygiene factor here and not an “enhanced life” product). I stretched my rent budget and got myself a nice house – I reasoned that it is important to feel comfortable at home, and so I shouldn’t compromise on that front. The day I moved into this house, I got unlimited Airtel broadband. I got Tata Sky. Did a few book binges. And so forth.
Of late I havent’ been very happy (ok the skeptics will ask when was the last time I was really happy, and that isn’t an invalid question, though I typically give the answer as “october 2005”). Some people misconstrue this and point out to all the good things that I have, and say that given all this, I have no right to crib. However, I believe that given all the good things that I have, my life is not as good as it can be, and so I need to push the limits as much as I can, and so temporary unhappiness in this quest is not an issue.
I’ve been cribbing about various things. About how I hardly meet “people” (I must point out that in my first month in Gurgaon, I made conscious effort to meet new people. Then NED happened). About how I end up spending most of my weekends at home, doing nothing. About how I sometimes feel that my life is too regimented. I mostly get standard replies. “Get yourself a new hobby”, they say, and list out a dozen “standard” hobbies. On my part, I think I already have enough things that give me a “kick” and I don’t want to make my life more regimented, so this won’t help. Then they say that I should actively seek out and meet new people, but they don’t say how. They say I should just get out of the house, but what should I do then? Hang out in a mall?
Frequently I lapse into introspection. And frequently, this introspection brings out an insight. The latest one might sound escapist to the skeptics, but I think it is the truth. It tells me that my life was no different when I wsa back in Bangalore. Then toom, I used to hardly meet any “people”. I would end up spending most of the weekend sitting at home, laptop on lap and watching football. I used to meet friends once in two or three weekends then, and it’s no different here. And I’ve picked up new hobbies here – such as reading and watching movies. So there seems to be a delta improvement.
The problem, I now realize, is that Gurgaon has denied me my favourite single-player hobby – of taking long and lonely introspective walks. Which is what I would do almost on a daily basis in Bangalore. Get out of the house and start walking, usually on main roads. Abruptly stop, and “observe life around me as it happened”. Make a few mental notes (mostly to forget those notes when I sat in front of a computer) and move on. Eat roadside food. Buy random stuff. When I get bored of walking, hop into a bus or into an auto. And then, when I’ve gotten really bored, walk back, or even take an auto back.
Every Saturday and Sunday evening I would do this. A version of this used to be done on weekday evenings also, when I’d do the long walks carrying my laptop on my back. Even now, I sudddenly get that spring in my stride when I start walking, taking giant steps. Unfortunately, given Gurgaon’s skewed geography, this can’t be done on a sustainable basis. In fact, there is no place to walk around in Gurgaon at all, unless of course if I’m inside the mall, but then there is so little else to do there.
I wondered if Mainland Delhi might be better, but people are skeptical about that, too. People simply don’t walk much in Delhi, I’m told. Even if they have to go 100meters, they take the car. The only place in Delhi that I’ve visited so far, and which I think offers me good walking space is Connnaught Place, but I have to go through a long drive in order to reach there, which leads to NED. Hopefully once the metro construction to Gurgaon is done, I’ll be able to get there easier. Till then, I don’t know. I think all I can do is to crib. And try and develop some alternatives, none of which is striking my head now.